Dissents Of The Day

A reader quotes me:

Yes, [Ayaan Ali Hirsi is] controversial. She has said some tough, tough things about Islam. But if she hasn’t earned the right to say those things, who has?

Come on.  I am an ardent defender of free speech (I worked at the ACLU for five years), but there is a difference between recognizing someone’s right to speak and honoring that person for what they’ve done and what they’ve said. Brandeis didn’t simply invite Ali to speak, they were going to give her one of the greatest honors a university can give.  That is an endorsement of someone.  And that inherently involves making judgments as to what and who is worthy of honoring.

Another reader:

How could you go through an entire post about Ali, Brandeis, The Left, and pc in general without any mention that Brandeis invited her join in an on-campus dialogue about the issues her work addresses? It may not be an adequate off-set, but it does indicate some openness to public discussion that your post implies is being murdered in the crib.

Another points to some of her most offensive views:

Below are snippets of Reason‘s interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Please link the article to your readers. I suspect quite a few don’t know what she really stands for.

These are not merely “provocative” ideas. She’s not challenging the religion of Islam as you wrote. These are very hateful anti-Muslim ideas. For goodness’ sake, she’s advocating war against Islam and Muslims. If you replace the words “Islam” and “Muslims” with “Christianity” and “Christians” or with “Judaism” and “Jews”, you could easily mistake her for a violent jihadist. How can you read those quotes (there are many more like them out there) and claim that she’s being unfairly characterized as a bigot by the so-called hard left? Her words speak for themselves. She is a bigot. A clearly deranged one too. Those are not a few quotes that you can just easily dismiss. They’re not out of context. They’re her beliefs. They represent who she is. Read the whole interview. See what she thinks about civil liberties and free speech. Oh the contradictions.

P.S. My name suggests I’m Muslim. I’m not. I’m an atheist with a Muslim background. So I’m not being tribal here. To reject and criticize Islam is one thing; to make a career promoting hate and advocating war against a religion and its 1.6 billion adherents is something else. You’re a very decent and admirable person. It’s disheartening to learn that you’re friends with such a vile character.

Reason: Should we acknowledge that organized religion has sometimes sparked precisely the kinds of emancipation movements that could lift Islam into modern times?…Do you think Islam could bring about similar social and political changes?

Hirsi Ali: Only if Islam is defeated.

Reason: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?

Hirsi Ali: No. Islam, period.

Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?

Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways….There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.

Reason: Militarily?

Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.

Reason: So when even a hard-line critic of Islam such as Daniel Pipes says, “Radical Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution,” he’s wrong?

Hirsi Ali: He’s wrong. Sorry about that.

Reason: In Holland, you wanted to introduce a special permit system for Islamic schools, correct?

Hirsi Ali: I wanted to get rid of them. I wanted to have them all closed

Reason: Here in the United States, you’d advocate the abolition of—

Hirsi Ali: All Muslim schools. Close them down. Yeah, that sounds absolutist.

Unfiltered comments from readers are on our Facebook page. One of them:

I know plenty of Muslim women working in DV advocacy who owe Ayaan Hirsi Ali not a single goddam thing, and it’s not because they’re all inveterate leftists thoroughly marinated in their own victimology. Ayaan’s criticisms of Islam echo, and in fact reinforce, the most rank tropes of Islamophobia in the West. Yes, she has every right to criticize Islam from her own life experiences, but the logical endpoint of these critiques is the permanent marginalization of Muslims from the mainstream of Western society, not the empowerment and further integration of those already at the mainstream.

Hers is a drearily, irrelevantly euro-centric idea of how Muslims live in non-Muslim societies and that Brandeis – one of the institutional bulwarks of cultural Zionism and Jewish intellectual life in America – found her comments far beyond the pale is remarkable to me. Ayaan has a platform to make the type of sweeping generalizations about Muslims that no commentator in the States has been able to make about Catholics and Jews in a mainstream setting for decades now.